Manual of Policies and Procedures

F/6.2 Information privacy

Contact Officer

Privacy Officer, Governance and Legal Services

Approval Date

04/04/2017

Approval Authority

Vice-Chancellor

Date of Next Review

01/04/2020

6.2.1 Purpose
6.2.2 Application
6.2.3 Roles and responsibilities
6.2.4 Collection and use of personal information
6.2.5 Access and security of personal information
6.2.6 Prohibition on disclosure of personal information
6.2.7 Register of graduates
6.2.8 Requests for access to and amendment of personal information under Information Privacy Act
6.2.9 Privacy complaints
6.2.10 Privacy breach management
6.2.11 Implementation of privacy obligations
6.2.12 Definitions
6.2.13 Delegations
Related Documents
Modification History

6.2.1 Purpose

QUT's functions require the collection, creation and use of personal information about students, staff and other clients. QUT is committed to protecting personal privacy and recognises that staff and students have a reasonable expectation that the University will protect and appropriately manage the personal information it holds about them.

QUT must comply with the requirements of the Information Privacy Act 2009 (Qld) (IP Act) which provides for the fair collection and handling of personal information.

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6.2.2 Application

This policy applies to the collection, use, storage, transfer, handling, right of access, and amendment of personal information at QUT.

It does not apply to:

  • routine employment information of staff
  • personal information which is maintained on a public register
  • information recorded in a de-identified way which cannot be linked (or re-linked) to a known individual
  • personal information which is already available in a publication or other publicly available document; or
  • information which is generally available.

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6.2.3 Roles and responsibilities

Position
Responsibility
Vice-Chancellor
  • as the 'principal officer' under the Information Privacy Act, is responsible for QUT's obligations under the Act
Registrar
  • as chief administrative officer, oversees implementation of privacy management across the University, and approves privacy protocols, guidelines and mandatory training arrangements
Policy and Compliance Manager (Governance and Legal Services)
  • acts as QUT Privacy Officer, and administers the Information Privacy Act on behalf of the Registrar, including:
    • making initial decisions on access and amendment applications under the Information Privacy Act
    • training staff in the University's privacy obligations
    • providing advice on privacy issues
    • coordination of the University's investigation and response to privacy complaints and breaches
Heads of organisational units
  • manage privacy risk in the organisational unit and implement business processes consistent with the Information Privacy Act
Data custodians
  • implement adequate security measures to protect privacy of personal information in information systems
  • determine user access levels which must be consistent with privacy requirements
  • implement appropriate mechanisms to revoke access to systems containing personal information, when access is no longer appropriate, for instance, in the case of a change in position or formal responsibilities, or termination of employment

(The Corporate information asset management policy (F/1.9) provides further details.)

All staff
  • undertake required privacy training
  • comply with the requirements of the Information Privacy Act, this policy and all procedures and privacy protocols issued under the policy

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6.2.4 Collection and use of personal information

Personal information must be collected only where necessary and relevant to QUT's functions and activities and in a reasonable and transparent way. Personal information should not be collected unless there is a specific and immediate use for it. An appropriate privacy notice must be provided when collecting information directly from an individual.

Before using personal information, staff have a responsibility to take reasonable steps to ensure that information is accurate, up-to-date and complete. Personal information must be used only when it is relevant and only for the purpose for which it has been collected or a directly related purpose.

Further guidance on use of personal information is detailed in the privacy protocols (QUT staff access only).

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6.2.5 Access and security of personal information

Access and security safeguards are important ways of protecting personal privacy. Access to personal information is granted to staff only where this is necessary for work purposes and staff must only access personal information if there is a work related reason for this. Personal information must be protected against loss, unauthorised access or modification, disclosure or misuse. The University's Information security policy (F/1.2) provides further details on how to classify and protect personal information.

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6.2.6 Prohibition on disclosure of personal information

Staff must not disclose personal information to individuals or organisations outside the University. Disclosure refers to release of personal information to another entity (e.g. a body, agency or person separate from the University) where QUT will cease to have effective control of the information once it is released.

There are some limited circumstances in which personal information may be disclosed without breaching personal privacy. These circumstances include the following:

    • where there is appropriate documentary evidence that the individual has agreed to disclosure
    • where a privacy notice given at the point of collection advises the individual about the usual practices for disclosure
    • where disclosure is required or authorised by law (for example, court order or subpoena, legislative obligation to disclose)
    • where disclosure is necessary to manage or lessen a serious threat to a person’s life, health, safety, or welfare, or to public health, safety or welfare
    • where disclosure is necessary for investigation or enforcement of criminal matters or other law enforcement matters. 

Privacy protocols (QUT staff access only) which set out the considerations and procedures for disclosure of personal information in these circumstances are available and must be followed. Disclosing personal information in other situations must only occur following confirmation from the Privacy Officer that disclosure is necessary and acceptable under other limited provisions in the Information Privacy Act.

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6.2.7 Register of graduates

QUT, including its predecessor institutions, maintains a public register of graduates. Information concerning a person's status as a graduate is a matter of public record and available to any member of the public, through the Verification of qualifications service. The only details confirmed through this service are the graduate's name (as recorded in QUT systems), the degree conferred or to be conferred and the date of conferral. QUT may charge a fee for this service.

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6.2.8 Requests for access to and amendment of personal information under Information Privacy Act

The Information Privacy Act also provides a right of access to, and amendment of, personal information (F/6.3). Details on how an individual can request access to or to amend their personal information in accordance with the Information Privacy Act can be found in the University's policy on Access to information (F/6.3) and in QUT’s administrative access schemes.

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6.2.9 Privacy complaints

If an individual believes that QUT has not dealt with their personal information in accordance with the Information Privacy Act or this policy, they may make a complaint to QUT. A complaint must be made in writing or by email to the Privacy Officer or referred to that officer if received by another area of the University.

Primary responsibility for investigating and responding to the complaint will rest with the head of the organisational unit concerned, with advice from the Privacy Officer as required. The University's main objective in responding to privacy complaints is to conciliate an outcome which is acceptable to the complainant and which addresses any broader or systemic privacy issues which may arise.

If a complainant does not agree with the University's response, an internal review process is available or a complainant may refer the matter for independent mediation by the Office of the Information Commissioner.

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6.2.10 Privacy breach management

The head of the relevant organisational unit must report any breaches of this policy to the Privacy Officer as soon as practicable after the breach has been identified. Where the matter involves a breach of information security, the Privacy Officer will liaise with the Manager, Information Security (F/1.2.8) to assist with responding to and reporting on the complaint.

Management of a privacy breach will include steps to:

  • contain the breach
  • evaluate the associated risks
  • consider notifying the affected individuals; and
  • prevention of any further privacy breach.

The Registrar must be informed of serious breaches of this policy or related protocols and any actions arising out of any investigations.

A breach which involves misuse or inappropriate access to personal information by a staff member may be a breach of the QUT Staff Code of Conduct and managed under disciplinary or unsatisfactory performance processes (B/8.1.7). 

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6.2.11 Implementation of privacy obligations

Protection of personal information must be addressed as part of many University activities. These activities include:

  • ensuring commercial contracts with third parties have appropriate safeguards for protection of personal information, consistent with QUT’s policy on management of contracts and MOUs (G/6.1)
  • addressing requirements of the Information Privacy Act when transferring personal information outside of Australia
  • ensuring that unique identifiers are not published or made generally available.

A privacy impact assessment may assist data custodians and heads of organisational areas to appropriately consider and manage privacy issues.

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6.2.12 Definitions

Personal information is as defined by the Information Privacy Act as information or an opinion, including information or an opinion forming part of a database, whether true or not, and whether recorded in a material form or not, about an individual whose identity is apparent, or can reasonably be ascertained, from the information or opinion. Personal information includes usernames, passwords and unique identifiers such as staff and student numbers. It can be recorded in any format including hard copy documents, electronic documents, databases, administrative systems, photographs and other images, and staff/student identity cards.

A privacy breach occurs when there is a failure to comply with the information privacy policy or the Information Privacy Act's 11 privacy principles. Usually this will result in unauthorised disclosure of or unauthorised access to personal information.

A privacy complaint is a complaint about an act or practice of QUT in relation to an individual’s personal information that is a breach of this policy or the Information Privacy Act.

Unique identifiers including student and staff numbers are used as the basis for recording a large amount of personal information. Other unique identifiers include payroll numbers, tax file numbers, credit card numbers and bank account details.

Routine employment information of staff is any information which does not relate to the personal aspects of a staff member's employment at the University. This includes information such as a staff member's position title, QUT email address, work phone number or any information which is publicly available on the QUT website.

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6.2.13 Delegations

Refer to Appendix 3 Schedule of Authorities and Delegations (VC004, VC005).

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Related Documents

MOPP F/1.2 Information security policy

MOPP F/1.5 Email policy

MOPP F/6.3 Access to information

MOPP G/6.1 Policy on management of contracts and MOUs

MOPP H/3.4.9 Closed circuit television policy

Privacy protocols (QUT staff access only)

QUT Privacy Complaints Procedures

QUT schemes for access to personal information

Access to information at QUT

Information Privacy Act 2009
(Qld)

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Modification History

Date Sections Source Details
04.04.17 All Vice-Chancellor Revised and simplified policy
29.10.15 F/6.2.6, F/6.2.11 Vice-Chancellor Policy revised to include information security
23.10.13 All Manager, Policy and Compliance (Privacy Officer) Periodic review - minor revisions only
07.10.10 All Vice-Chancellor Policy revised following enactment of Information Privacy Act 2009. Renumbered to F/6.2 (formerly F/9.1)
07.06.07 All Vice-Chancellor Policy revised and updated (endorsed by Vice-Chancellor's Advisory Committee 02.05.07)
20.02.04 All Vice-Chancellor Revised policy - replaces former F/9.1 Information access and privacy policy for students and staff at QUT (endorsed by Vice-Chancellor's Advisory Committee 12.02.04)
21.05.99 All Vice-Chancellor New policy (replaces former policies on confidentiality of staff and student records) (endorsed by Vice-Chancellor's Advisory Committee 22.4.99)

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